Mets host Braves in last chance at playoffs

Home sweet home?

Not for the Mets.

The 55-55 Mets begin a three-game weekend series against NLWild Card-leading Atlanta with a 22-28 mark at Citi Field. It is the third worst home record in baseball ahead of only Houston (18-37) and San Diego (22-36).

For a team that still considers itself in the Wild Card race, it is certainly a concern that the Mets are below .500 in their home park.  Their 33-27 road record is second best in baseball behind American League-leading Boston (33-21).

“I heard that stat [Tuesday] and was shocked by it. I was very, very surprised by it and I don’t have an answer for it,” Terry Collins said about his team’s 0-9 mark to start homestands prior to Wednesday night’s rainout, which temporarily paused the Mets’ four-game losing streak. “[We were] talking as a coaching staff [Wednesday] about our game preparation; what we need to change at home [because] what we do on the road we’re not doing at home.

“Everything, as far as we know is the same. Obviously you do a little more extra work at home because you get the field earlier, but from the time we’re done with batting practice to game time, is it too long? Is there something we should be doing during that period? I do not have the answers. Our guys are so much more relaxed on the road than they are at home. You can sense it when you walk into the clubhouse. You walk into our clubhouse [Wednesday] at 6 p.m., there’s nobody in there. On the road, they’re all there,” Collins said. “I don’t have the answers to that. I’m trying certainly to research it to figure out what it might be.”

Odder still, the Mets entered this season with an 88-74 mark in their two years at Citi Field, while going 61-101 on the road.

“I’ve been on teams where we’ve played better at home because obviously you’re up last. A lot of guys are more relaxed [at home], the background is more familiar to them, the lighting is more familiar, it’s an easier place for them to play,” Collins said.

The Mets’ .263 batting average at Citi Field ranks sixth in the National League. They finished last season 10th in the National League with a .255 team batting average. Their .274 batting average in 2009 was second best in the N.L.  

“Being around the guys, watching them work, watching them get ready for the games and watching them play the games, there’s just a more relaxed sense of who they are when we’re on the road. I don’t have a reason for that,” Collins added.

R.A. Dickey (5-9, 3.77), Jonathon Niese (10-8, 3.94) and Mike Pelfrey (6-10, 4.48) are the scheduled starters for this weekend. However, the possibility exists that Wednesday’s starter, Dillon Gee (10-3, 3.69), could pitch this weekend in order to keep him on as close to regular schedule as possible. If he doesn’t pitch against the Braves, Gee’s next start would come early next week against San Diego. 

Follow Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.



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